Melissa Chambal, US LATAM & Canada Technical Manager and 7×24 Exchange International Career Development Mentor at CNet Training, joined the company with over 20 years’ data centre and network infrastructure experience, plus five years teaching data centre design and network design programs. She has taught at the Top Gun Marine base in California and performed a Data Centre Audit on Department of Defence facilities. Today, Chambal delivers CNet Training’s Global Data Centre programs, including Data Centre Management, Design and Audit.
Here, Chambal offers insight into her career journey and tells us what sets CNet apart from others and provides advice for aspiring data centre professionals.
Can you tell us a bit more about who you are and your journey to becoming a CNet Training Instructor?
My name is Melissa and I joined CNet Training in 2013 as the US, Canada and LatAm Technical Manager. It has been an enriching journey over the past eight years. Prior to working at CNet, I spent most of my career in the New York City area as project manager for an electrical contractor. I started off estimating projects, doing ‘take-offs’, managing, engineering and designing projects. It’s been an incredible experience.
How did you enter the data centre sector?
My role in most of my projects involved cabling trading floors with enough copper and fibre cable to resemble a flight simulator and ensured all the cables under each trading desk were terminated and tested in the data centre.
Why did you decide to become an instructor?
That is an interesting question. As a project engineer, I would review RFPs for submittal. Our response to the requirements would naturally be, ‘understand and we will comply with all the appropriate and related structured cabling standards’. In the office, we knew the standards, but when I would visit the site and do my QA assessment, it was obvious that the installation teams weren’t familiar with the recognised cabling standards and the expected minimum requirements. When I brought this fact up to my management, they agreed and proceeded to put me in charge of developing an in-house training program to deliver to our electricians that belonged to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, one of the largest labour unions in the US. As daunting and challenging as it was, after the class, I found I was completely hooked with the atmosphere of learning and exchanging ideas with other professionals, as we can all learn something new.
What do you find is the most rewarding thing about being an instructor?
After conducting my first training program mentioned above, I was immediately hooked. It’s so rewarding for me when I can connect with the learners by taking the time to appreciate their perspective of their own data centre environment.
What makes a good Instructor?
Loving what you teach.
Understand your students’ perspectives to make the material relevant to their own experience. Lastly, leave the learner wanting to know more.
What do you think sets CNet Training apart from other training/education providers?
CNet’s commitment to the continued development of its instructors stands out to me. All of CNet’s instructors are not only industry professionals, but are also certified instructors that have completed The Certificate of Education and Training (Level 4). This accreditation ensures that CNet’s customers are being taught by professionals not just in the field but also who understand the instructional delivery to provide the highest quality of education to all of our learners.
If you could change one thing about the data centre industry, what would it be?
It’s a shame that this industry doesn’t sleep and it is an extremely high-pressure environment 24/7. Human error is still causing downtime and doubt among owners and operators. I wish I could find a way to promote any job in such a demanding environment to the younger generation. It is a tough sell to attract talent from all disciplines necessary to make the operations seamless.
You are a 7×24 Exchange International Career Development Mentor. What made you want to become a mentor?
Throughout my career, I have come across some exceptional professionals who have provided me with guidance and support when I needed it. Becoming a mentor is one way I can ‘pay it forward’, as a tribute to all of those who have helped me through the years. Any guidance, support or perspective that can provide someone an opportunity to explore other opportunities or potential solutions is worth doing.
Why should more women consider a career in the digital infrastructure industry?
Women have a huge role to play in the shaping of the digital infrastructure age. From cybersecurity to national intelligence, to aerospace to pharmaceutical and bioengineering, there are countless opportunities for women in this industry for innovation and leadership.
What’s the most useful piece of advice you’ve been given in your career?
There have been quite a few words of wisdom passed down from my past, but I think the one that has stuck with me most and that I can apply to almost anything is, ‘you don’t know it, if you can’t explain it’. This comes in handy in many ways.
Do you have any advice for people who would like to get into the data centre sector?
We are in a digital age, and for those women and men who are fascinated by technology, whether that be building systems and automation or the containerised and virtualised IT world. They should reach out to data centre organisations, see what career options are out there, look for mentoring programs, apprenticeships and internships with a mission critical facility organisation (owner/operators, general/main contractors), or any of the specialised trades that contribute to the amazingly integrated environment. Everyone in this field makes a difference and the industry is calling out for new talent so it’s the perfect time to consider a career within the digital infrastructure industry.
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